The name is surprisingly literal, referring to an annual fair that was held near an ancient oak tree, the Fairlop Oak, which appears on a 1777 map in woodland part of the medieval Hainault Forest, immediately north of today’s Fairlop station. It was blown down in 1820. Norman Gunby in A Potted History of Ilford writes that the name Fairlop first appeared in 1738 when the fair, “which grew from the annual outing and bean-feast established by Daniel Day of Wapping was already well established.” A lop is a pollarded tree that is cut to provide wood for locals. Between Martinmas (November 11) and Candlemas (February 2), needy families were granted the right to lop wood for fuel at no charge at certain areas within the forest. The right was retained by a number of families in each surrounding parish throughout the Regency period.
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